Preseason hockey is officially underway, and players are already leaving the ice on stretchers and getting ejected from games. In last night’s split-squad match-up in Phoenix, the Kings and Coyotes apparently battled like it was the playoffs. Coyotes defenseman Rusty Klesla exited the ice on a stretcher after taking a brutal hit from Jordan Nolan, which eyewitnesses say made contact with his head. Although we don’t have access to the video evidence, the league sure does, and will be reviewing Nolan’s hit.
A replay of the hit showed Nolan clearly making first contact with Klesla’s head under the chin and leaving his feet on the follow-through. The hit could be grounds for suspension under Rule 48. The only mitigating factor was that Klesla was skating with his head down (a possibly vulnerable position), but the angle of his head does not appear to change before the hit is made.”
The good news is that Klesla gave the crowd a thumbs up on his way out.
Following the hit, Nolan apparently embellished an elbow from Martin Hanzal, which prompted Phoenix’s notorious fourth liner, Paul Bissonnette to flee the bench and lay a beatdown on Nolan. Biznasty was ejected from the game, and has been suspended by the department of player safety for an additional 10-games.
Quite a start to the season.
UPDATE: The NHL department of player safety has decided not to suspend Jordan Nolan. Here is video of the ruling, as well as the original hit: